Elkanah, an Ephraimite or Levite? 1 Samuel 1:1 and 1 Chronicles 6:16-30
1 Samuel 1:1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite
1 Chronicles 6:16-30 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. These are the names of the sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites listed according to their fathers: Of Gershon: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son and Jeatherai his son. The descendants of Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son and Shaul his son. The descendants of Elkanah: Amasai, Ahimoth, Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son and Samuel his son. The sons of Samuel: Joel the firstborn and Abijah the second son. The descendants of Merari: Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, Shimea his son, Haggiah his son and Asaiah his son.
Both are correct. Eli took Samuel into the temple as an apprentice (1 Sam. 2:11; 1 Sam. 3:1; cf. 1 Sam. 1:11, 27-28). Samuel later carried out the functions of the priesthood. As only those belonging to the tribe of Levi could serve as assistants in the temple (Num. 8:5-26; 1 Chron. 23:28-32), Elkanah was from the tribe of Levi. Additionally, Elkanah lived in the mountains of Ephraim (1 Chron. 6:16-30, 33-37); the tribe of Levi was assigned to dwell in certain cities that were scattered throughout the tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:6-7; Num. 35:6). So, "Ephraimite" refers to Elkanah's tribal descent, not his tribal ancestry.
Dr. Joseph R. Nally, D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).